The Weary Mom’s Guide to the Galaxy

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At one of my lowest points over the last 18 months, my sweet, little boy came to me and asked, “Mama, why do you cry all the time?”

Charlie had been quietly observing. He had noticed all of his mommy’s tears, all her self-loathing. All the days I lay paralyzed in my bed, he was waiting at my door, silently wondering why I never smiled or had the energy to play superheroes with him anymore.  I’m sure he felt confused and hurt. And the day I heard those words leave his lips, the remnants of my heart shattered into a million more pieces. I was so ashamed of myself and the way I had been carrying on… Rolling around in my sorrow like it would somehow put out the flames. I felt so careless and stupid; I checked out on the person who counted on me most. I piled shame on top of heartbreak on top of self-doubt.

I felt completely and utterly unloveable. My marriage, my friendships, my family, my own child..It seemed like I broke everything I touched. I set myself on fire, and I stayed there for a long time. I hadn’t realized yet that this was how my heart needed to heal. I needed to fall hard into my grief, so I could prove to myself I could get back up again. I didn’t know it, but I needed that unbearable heartbreak to propel me into something greater.

It was true: Life just hadn’t gone as planned. It never does. Life is built on a never-ending ebb and flow of joy and pain, failure and victory. You can’t have one without the other. During the darkest of circumstances, you might not realize it, but you are exactly where you are meant to be. This is a realization that only time will reveal. I can remember asking myself the same reoccurring question in the beginning: Why is this happening? Why is this happening to my marriage and family? Why? It was all part of my journey. Because by God, chance, or destiny, this moment was meant for me – to teach me… 

And through all this, I found grace.

I learned wounds don’t always heal the way you want them to. Healing was a very loud and messy process for me. Some days I needed to be alone to cry and sleep and cry some more. Sometimes I needed to vent loudly. I needed to repeat myself over and over until I felt like someone heard me. Sometimes I was hopefully optimistic, and other times I thought the world was crumbling in on me. I allowed myself to feel whatever I needed to feel in the moment. But, the only thing that truly eased my pain was time. You just can’t rush a broken heart. You have to give yourself permission to heal wholly at your own pace.

Give yourself grace.

I learned the necessity of letting go. After the affair, I began taking inventory of all the people in my life, and I reflected on the dynamics of each relationship. I realized I had tethered myself to people who already had one foot out the door, and whether it was out of dedication or plain desperation, I refused to let them go. Not everyone is meant for you though. If there is someone in your life constantly overlooking you… Constantly forcing you to compromise yourself… Misleading, manipulating, and using you… If someone steals your joy and dims your light, let them go. Stop filling up your shelves with relics of people who never deserved space in your heart in the first place. Walk away quietly: Don’t give them one more second of your peace. This is not an act of cruelty. This is self-preservation. 

Give yourself grace.

I learned pain is fleeting. When I was delirious with grief, my husband would always reassure me everything would be okay. “It’s all going to be fine,” he would say… And this infuriated me. Easy for him to say! How could I ever possibly be okay? Surely he can see I’m a mess. How dare he say that! But, honestly, he was right. There is life after heartbreak. There will be laughter after sorrow. There will be joy. Acceptance and forgiveness were essential. You cannot change how things happen. You can only control your reaction. You learn to be happy in spite of what hurt you. You move forward.

Give yourself grace. 

I learned to fill myself up with love. I hugged my babies. We played outside. We rode our bikes. We swam and read books and watched movies. I kissed my husband, and I held his hand. I started wrapping him in forgiveness and grace. We cried together and laughed together. And when a friend needed me, I showed up for her. I embraced friendship and family. I laughed until my side ached and drank lots of rum and danced without inhibition. I painted and took lots of pictures and read poetry. I watched every single season of Sex and the City. I put one foot in front of the other. I did things that made me happy. You have to. You have to fill yourself up with light. You have to allow people to love you. You have to push yourself forward. 

Give yourself grace.

For whatever is weighing on your heart – big or small. Just for the sake of it. You deserve time to get where you’re going. You deserve peace. You deserve tomorrow. Embrace the people and the things that set your soul on fire. And be gentle with yourself: You’re doing the best you can!

 

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